Tales from a Dorkbook: Buccaneers edition

Post-game nattering from a happy First Energy Stadium

12:30PM Pre-game natterings: There’s on thing that worries me quite a great deal, and that’s the size difference between Tampa Bay’s receivers and our cornerbacks. Glennon can throw the ball long, and if he has time, things could become annoying. That’s why the key to the ballgame, in my mind, is what kind of pressure the Browns can put on Glennon. With Oniel Cousins starting at left tackle for the Bucs, I like our chances. Our outside linebackers could be the difference.

5:00PM Post-game nattering on the pre-game natterings: I wasn’t as wrong as usual this week, I swear.

The Browns fell victim to two 24-yard strikes for touchdowns between Glennon and Evans, and were in trouble with both Jackson and Evans running sideline routes all day. The key from my perspective was the Bucs moving away from the run in the second half. This limited the effectiveness of the play action, which in turn limited both Glennon’s effectiveness. In the first half, running the ball was a strength for Tampa Bay, as they out-gained the Browns 94 yards to 14. With the Buccaneer running game sidelined, Browns were able to turn up the heat against Glennon and won the second half.

What I learned this season: Alex Mack deserves a lot of money.

What I also learned: The truism about the team that runs the ball best winning the game isn’t necessarily true… as long as the team you’re playing is absolutely horrible. Otherwise, I continue to believe that whoever runs the ball better and turns it over less tends to win NFL games.

This is far from an original observation, but it continually holds true.

The Browns have been out-played in the running game for the last three weeks, since the loss of Mack, and it’s impossible to predict upbeat results as the schedule gets tougher against Cincinnati Thursday and the Texans a week from Sunday. The Bengals will not be so easily moved from their running game as were the Bucs, who ran just eight times for 19 yards in the second half.

One of the reasons I’m pessimistic is because I didn’t see center Nick McDonald improve from the Oakland game to the Tampa Bay game. The center was pushed back and out of the play a number of times. I’m hoping that this was just a side effect of facing the intimidating Gerald McCoy, and not something we’ll see in future weeks.

Following the loss of Mack, the Browns have been continually ineffective running the ball, and they have made the defensive fronts of Jacksonville and Tampa Bay look a lot stronger than they’ve looked the rest of the year.

Put me down as one who doesn’t believe that the unsure ball-handling and blocking of Isaiah Crowell is necessarily the answer.

On the Strange Clock Management:: At the end of the first-half, the Browns elected to let the clock burn down to nine seconds left rather than to try to take advantage of the 30-seconds or so left available to them.

The Browns of the Cleveland Browns media corps all exploded at this, with Twitter filling up with repetitive posts from the usual suspects lambasting the team’s clock management.

The reason Pettine took an extremely conservative tack is simple: The Browns were in a third-and-fourteen and failing to convert a first down would allow the Bucs to try their hand at scoring before the end of the half.

Pettine instead allowed the Browns to run a single play, successfully, setting up a field goal before halftime.

Pettine’s approach makes sense, IF you don’t have a lot of confidence in your offense in converting a third-and-fourteen. Given the Browns play in the first half, Pettine’s lack of faith was justified, and, in his eyes, was playing it safe. The end result: Browns field goal, no time for Tampa Bay to respond.

Special, for once: Since the Browns returned in 1999, special teams play has often been a highlight. In their early years, there was little positive to write about the team other than the punting of Chris Gardocki, kicking of Phil Dawson, and returns of Josh Cribbs.

In recent years, however, Browns special teams have been pedestrian. But on Sunday, they were the difference. Billy Winn’s block of a “gimme” field goal and the forced one-yard punt by Michael Koenen - which turned into the touchdown pass to Gabriel - were enough to turn a tight contest the Browns way.

Three Objects of Indescribable Beauty:

— Billy Winn leap-frogging the center on the field goal block in the first quarter.

— Terrance West’s block on the Hoyer-To-Gabriel touchdown pass.

— Haden’s vengeance… two plays after a debatable “no interception” call on the Browns sideline, Haden batted a pass intended for Vincent Jackson into the air and it was picked by Whitner.

The usual Twitter begging: Aw, come on, follow me on Twitter @BarryMcBride, will ya? Pleeeeeease? It makes me feel useful.


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